Condé Nast CEO Bob Sauerberg Departs In Tough Magazine Climate

Condé Nast will execute its turnaround with a new leader.

Its longtime CEO Bob Sauerberg is departing after 18 years with the company, including eight in the top spot. He’s leaving just months after he announced a turnaround plan for the publisher of Vogue, Wired and The New Yorker that would see it diversify away from advertising.

The company is launching an outside search for a new global CEO, according to a letter sent by Jonathan Newhouse and Steve Newhouse on behalf of the Condé Nast board of directors.

The board also said it would combine Condé Nast with Condé Nast International – which is a more efficient operation led by Wolfgang Blau, noted Forrester senior analyst Susan Bidel.

“[Blau] has significant digital experience and is seen as more relevant by marketers who want to tap into and partner with creative and content experts who understand today’s consumer,” Bidel said, adding that Hearst, under President Troy Young, did this years ago.

Combining both international and domestic businesses will let Condé Nast cut costs as it, like its peers, seeks greater scale and lower headcount.

“In media, as with everything else these days, size matters. That was a major reason that Meredith bought Time Inc.,” Bidel said. “I think the Condé moves are more about wringing inefficiencies out of the operation.”Sauerberg’s departure marks the third major executive change in magazine companies in the past year. When Meredith bought Time Inc., CEO Rich Battista departed along with COO Jen Wong. In July, Hearst Magazines President David Carey stepped down and Troy Young, then president of digital media, took on his role.

Prior to Sauerberg’s leaving, Condé Nast had infused its organization with fresh digital blood. The company named Oren Katzeff as president of Condé Nast Entertainment in mid-November. Katzeff headed up programming at Tastemade, a VC-backed digital media company which got its start doing “hands and pans” viral recipe videos and recently launched a digital TV channel with distribution on streaming platforms.

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